When my child was born healthy, I didn’t ask “why me?” I cherished her. A hundred days I cuddled her, produced the milk, and she woke up alive. That’s not a hundred little miracles, it’s the contract. The day she didn’t wake up, I was abused. I demanded answers from the doctors who’d delivered me a flaw. They handed me a made-up word to take back home and nurse. If my baby died of what they told me, then I’m dying too, we’re all dying, of gradual adult death syndrome. Last year, again, I held the future to my breast, a little animal he was, with slick black hair, a beastly cry and vacant, needful look. He didn’t live three weeks, cause of death undetermined. The coroner doesn’t know what to think when a second infant dies without symptoms in the same crib to the same parents. For my part, I don’t suspect the mother, but what must my husband be thinking? The cops have theories; they cover for the doctors. The prosecutor probes the family dynamic. The father, he puts his foot into the belly of a file cabinet. What do they mean by dynamic? There’s just the husband and me. If he suspected me, I’d understand. My sister has a baby, too, just two days older than ours would be, who sleeps on her back and wakes up gargling and farting. My husband holds her in his lap. She nestles in the furrow between his thighs and blinks as he blows soft silent whistles across her eyes. A tear drips from the tip of his nose. He is dear. I want so much to share with him this multitude I carry. But I am dying, gradually, and he has too much faith in me.

Copyright © December 28, 2006 David Hodges